The Royal Dutch/Shell Group's former chairman, Sir Philip Watts, received a severance package worth £1.06 million (US$1.93 million), the amount he would have earned had he stayed on until retirement, the company said on Friday. \nWatts was asked to step down in March, after an internal investigation found that the company had overstated its oil and gas reserves estimates for several years. \nHe was the head of exploration and production, the division in charge of reserves, from 1997 to 2000, when much of the overbooking occurred. \nWatts, who turned 59 on Friday, had been scheduled to retire in June next year. \nShell said Friday that Watts received the payment, rather than three months of salary, a more standard severance agreement in Britain, because he resigned from his post by mutual agreement with Shell's board rather than being forced out. \nThe severance package is in addition to a pension of £584,000 (US$1.06 million) a year. \nLast year, he was awarded 1.165 million stock options, worth £582,500 if they were exercised at Friday's closing price, and a salary of £843,000 (US$1.5 million). \nSome investor groups said the severance payment was a clear sign that shareholder rights were still too weak. \n"We think that shareholders need the power to specifically approve or reject these termination packages," said David Somerlinck, corporate governance policy manager at Pensions Investment Research Consultants, a London firm that represents institutional shareholders. \nLast year, the British government weighed legislation that would give investors the power to vote down rich severance packages, but the bill was not approved. \nShell should have awarded Watts three months of pay, the minimum allowed under his contract, Somerlinck said. \nShell is facing several class-action lawsuits and investigations related to its reserves estimates that could cut into earnings this year or next. \nRegulators, including the Securities and Exchange Commission and the US Department of Justice in particular, may impose hefty fines, analysts say. \nThe company first cut its proven reserve estimates by 20 percent in January, then trimmed them three more times. \nTomorrow, Shell's directors and managers will face shareholders for the first time at two separate annual general meetings in London and Amsterdam. \nAttendance is expected to be high, and small shareholders in particular are likely to use the forum to criticize Shell's corporate governance. \nIn response to an investor outcry after the reserve estimates were cut in January, Shell has agreed to rethink its unique dual-board structure. \nInvestors are anxious to be part of any revamping of the company. \nSome investor groups have already put forward specific proposals about the issue that may be addressed at Monday's meetings. \nThe California Public Employees' Retirement System, or Calpers, and Knight Vinke Asset Management will ask Shell to include two outside investor representatives in their review process. \n"We're not looking for confrontation for confrontation's sake," said Lucy Butler, a spokeswoman for the Association of British Insurers. \nThe group would just like to make sure that Shell is communicating with shareholders about any changes, she added. \nShell also said on Friday that the expiration date for 2,847,000 stock options Watts has outstanding had been moved up. The last of the options now expire in March 2009, rather than March 2013.
Softbank Group Corp plans to keep a stake in the chip designer Arm Ltd, even if it sells a partial interest to Nvidia Corp, the Nikkei reported. The companies are negotiating terms, the newspaper reported, citing sources. Softbank might take a stake in Nvidia after it buys Arm, the report said. Nvidia and Arm might also merge through a share swap, and Softbank would become a major shareholder in the combined company, it said. The two parties aim to reach a deal in the next few weeks, the sources said, asking not to be identified because the information is private. Nvidia is the
END TO SPECULATION: The hotel’s management contract has been extended, despite reports that it wanted to end its alliance with Hyatt Hotels over a deal with Riant Capital Singapore-based Hong Leong Hotel Development Ltd (豐隆大飯店股份) yesterday said it has extended a management contract to ensure the continued presence of the Grand Hyatt brand in Taipei, ending rumors that the two sides were parting ways. “We are pleased Hyatt is able to come to terms on the extension of the management contract of Grand Hyatt Taipei,” said Kwek Leng Beng (郭令明), executive chairman of City Developments Ltd (城市發展) and Millennium & Copthorne Hotels Ltd (千禧國敦酒店). Hong Leong Hotel Development is a subsidiary of Millennium, and both fall under the Hong Leong Group (豐隆集團). The Grand Hyatt Taipei (台北君悅大飯店), owned and built by
Gold surged to a fresh record on Friday, fueled by US dollar weakness and low interest rates, while silver headed for its best month since 1979. Spot bullion is up more than 10 percent this month, as US real yields lingered near record lows. While the ferocity of rallies in gold and silver cooled in the middle of the week, most market watchers predict there might be more gains ahead. Both metals have added about 30 percent this year, with gold and silver exchange-traded funds boosting holdings to a record, as concern about the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic fuels demand for
MOVING FROM CHINA? The article did not name the company, but Foxconn, Wistron and Pegatron were among firms chosen for a production-linked incentive plan in India An Apple Inc vendor is looking at shifting six production lines to India from China, which could result in US$5 billion of iPhone exports from the South Asian nation, the Times of India reported, citing people familiar with the matter who it did not identify. The establishment of the facility would create about 55,000 jobs over about a year, the newspaper reported, not naming the Apple vendor. It would also cater to the domestic market and expand operations to include tablets and laptops, the newspaper reported. Samsung Electronics Co and Apple’s assembly partners are among 22 companies that have pledged 110 billion